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Kurzweil synthesizers
Old 15th November 2009
  #1
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Spectral Climax's Avatar
 

Kurzweil synthesizers

What is your opinion on Kurzweil synthesizers? Certainly they were truly innovative at the 80s, but what about today? Any details on V.A.S.T. engine? Can we compare it with anything else in sound synthesis? Anyone who had the chance to play with VA1 engine in their new stage pianos / controllers?

I have found this old video but he mainly demonstrates performance features and not sound synthesis engine.

YouTube - Jordan Rudess - Live Performance with Kurzweil K2600

(Jordan Rudess is like wearing a wig :D)
Old 15th November 2009
  #2
Gear Addict
Firstly I guess their 80s units would be considered sample players. Their flagship K250 could sample with the aid of a computer but it wasn't a quick & simple operation. They were far less costly than Fairlights and Synclaviers but more feature packed than say the Emulators, Akais, etc.. Their next few models were spinoffs using their flagship's technology and they experimented with the rare & software interfaced K150 which was an additive synth programmed by a computer.

The V.A.S.T. synths began with the K2000 which I think was 1991. It's an interesting combination of sampling & built in waves with much more than average or usual processing. It can do basic FM Synthesis with user waveforms, one of many forms of DSP synthesis it can do though they kind of camouflaged it due to Yamaha at the time taking legal action when another company mentioned FM. Lots of mathematical manipulations that don't even have commonly used names are used. I think there was truth in advertising that you do get a vast amount of features and unlike earlier units you can access the majority of features from the front panel without a computer, though you can make use of one. In hindsight though, what most people were trying to do was sampling, which it did well but was priced somewhat upscale for that. Then in terms of experimental sounds, a purely software based system as computers got faster gave more options and flexibility of for experimentation. By the second half of the 90s most people wanting synthesis were more after analog emulation which was never included though a B3 type drawbar simulation was.
Old 15th November 2009
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
darthtrader's Avatar
 

Well keep in mind though it can only do FM because waveshaping can be thought of as equivelant for some sounds. They did have a version in house with actual FM algos but couldn't put it out because of Yamaha.
The biggest problem is they have the worst marketting department in all of synthesis. K2000 does fantastic VA type sounds, fantastic agressive sounds, fantastic weird sounds.. but you would never know it from the presets or that they market everything towards prog rock guys.
Even the new PC3X is monsterous and actually includes their VA synth, but who wants to pay that much for that kind of controller.
k2000 used is so cheap right now used, if you are interested at all should just pick one up and try it. Hard to see how they get much cheaper used at this point.
Why they can't put FM in the PC3X is beyond me, which to me it would basically be the ultimate synth if it could.
Old 15th November 2009
  #4
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

I still own a K2500 and a K2600.

The vast engine is capable of just about anything and there are some very flexible programming options.

It's a nicely built synth, very pro feeling with xlr ins and outs and a quality chassis.

Stepping through menus is a throwback, but there are many decent editors available and as one poster pointed out - "out there" sounds with something like Motu's editor/librarian are just a mouse click away (random mode).

Certainly, it's worth picking one up used.
Old 15th November 2009
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Had a K2000 for many years. Beautiful thing. Very humming and musical. Love that fact the filter cutoff is on actual notes. And the way you can drive the output like playing into the crack of an amp. Super as sampler, great flexible envelopes for full control or the behaviour of drum samples. Not very fast midi trigg times, but that somehow never stopped it making very tight beats with an Atari and C-lab for me.

One thing I will say, for bass it kind of seems cool and again humming, until you try it in a mix. Bit fluffy , not too firm round the bottom. Not tight. Great for pads though, and you can get squeeling distorted lead aplenty, but in all there is a slightly unfocused quality to it. Something that to my mind only is an issue with very few musical elements, like bass and some leads, where it doesn't stand somehow confident enough for the spotlight slot. In all other areas I always liked the swimmy musical hum of it. Rant over....lol....get one. Like mentioned, cheap as chips now. Always did love the sound of the sampler for sampling with as well. More so than Roland, which was also great. Different angle. Wooops...shut it now....
Old 15th November 2009
  #6
i use a K2000 as my master.
digital sounding. not good if you're trying for analogueness. great for soundtrack type pads, good to muck around with samples on. very musical sounding, interesting textures, smooth thin filters. keyboard is a pleasure to play. oh and it has OCT up/down buttons, which is what makes it possible to use as a master
Old 15th November 2009
  #7
Gear Nut
 

I'm still using a K2661 as my main sampler. I recommend this free program for quickly creating drum patches: KurzFiler project

By the way, the ADAT I/O and KDFX are enough of a reason to get one to use as an audio processor. With the ADAT I/O you get a 4 bus fx unit and it doesn't require the sample option.
Old 15th November 2009
  #8
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GYang's Avatar
2600 series and newer in general are still unsurpassed in sound quallity. There are better ergonomic synths or with very nice sounds in some banks, but Kurz via digital IOs delivers pure joy.
Old 16th November 2009
  #9
Lives for gear
Controller capabilities and modulation sources/destinations are two of the strongest areas of my K2600. I haven't run across another hardware synth that approaches it.
Sounds are always subjective, but it stands up well, and you can take a stock sound and mangle it till it's unrecognizable - if you're into that.
Old 16th November 2009
  #10
Gear Head
 

woah he had alot of hair back then.
Old 16th November 2009
  #11
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lowkey's Avatar
 

ive got a K2000 used as my master keyboard. i really have to get back into its sampling capability, but using scsi is a real pita!
Old 16th November 2009
  #12
Oli
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I've been on the look out for a 26xx unit for a while. I had wondered, just in terms of sound character, how would the 2000, 2500, 2600, PC3 compare? Anyone used a few of these?
Old 16th November 2009
  #13
Gear Nut
 
Kerzwhile's Avatar
 

Well, I'll keep this short. To Me, There is nothing better, all around then a Kurzweil K Series. There is Nothing more versatile. No piece of hardware can sound so True to the real instrument then at the push of a button sound more Nasty then a Moog Modular or VCS-3. The K2600 is the brain of my entire rig. What other synth utilizes 192 oscillators and has a resolution 768 ppq at 32 tracks. Roland, Korg, Yamaha etc. all make great products that sound great in their own right. I just feel that Kurz. is the most well rounded platform. The next incarnation of the "K" is gonna be Sick!! IMO
Old 16th November 2009
  #14
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GYang's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oli View Post
I've been on the look out for a 26xx unit for a while. I had wondered, just in terms of sound character, how would the 2000, 2500, 2600, PC3 compare? Anyone used a few of these?
They share solid high quality family sound definitelly, of course newer provide some additional possibilities. I would recommend used 2661, lightweight, fully loaded and rather affordable now. Very nice synth, with samlping option, if necessary. Huge optional sound base available for peanuts, if you look around on Ebay.
Kurz is heart of great keyboard system and I like it more than others (I have 2 Motifs, Fantom GT among working keyboards, not to mention dozen of analogue synths, hybrids, VSTi, samplers, groove stations etc.)
Old 16th November 2009
  #15
Gear Nut
 
Kerzwhile's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oli View Post
I've been on the look out for a 26xx unit for a while. I had wondered, just in terms of sound character, how would the 2000, 2500, 2600, PC3 compare? Anyone used a few of these?
I have used them all. The PC3 is the "best" sounding of the three but that to is very subjective. The nicest thing about the K's is that its a backward compatible format. For the most part. You can load all K2000 stuff in any of the K's but the K2000 needs a little help loading some of its big brothers program info. This is easily rectified by downloading a compatibility set of programs found on Kurzweils site. KDFX is the BIG advantage in the later models. If you find a K2500 at a great price, Be sure its got the KDFX option installed. This is a standard feature on the K26 and the PC3's. Its a HUGE upgrade from the noisy digitech chip that was used in the K2000's, K2VX and VP included. Also, remember that the Orchestral and Contemorary ROM expansion boards were options on all K2000, K2500 and Early K2600's. The K2VX's and More recent K2600's including the K2661 have these as standard features. These are MUST HAVE items!! If you are lucky enough to find a K2600 with all 4 ROM blocks installed BUY IT!! Please feel free to message me for price verification or questions. BTW, I am an authorized dealer!
Old 16th November 2009
  #16
Gear Head
 
Grandpa's Hammer's Avatar
 

Great digital synth/sampler with some very forward thinking algorithms ,
and also some of the loudest fan noise I ever encountered .
Not to forget the K150 additive synth from 1986 , apparently it made
Wendy Carlos happy , for a kurtz weil at least .
Oops , first post and hello everybody ...
Old 17th November 2009
  #17
Lives for gear
Fan noise, scsi, and weight are some of the unpleasant aspects. The k2661 and the current PC3 series use different storage media. Some people find the interface a bit difficult too.
As for sound quality, each generation shows an incremental improvement - not massive but noticable.
I currently have a K2600 and a PC2r. The PC2r sounds a bit more clear, clean and defined. The same can be said about the difference between the k2600 and the k2000r I used to have. I think it comes down to mainly improved converters used. My K2600 has 18 bit converters and the later series uses 24 bit converters.
Old 17th November 2009
  #18
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Farshad's Avatar
 

Pretty much everything I have to say is already mentioned by others

My K2661 sounds better and is much more versatile than all of my other digital synths (JD990, TG77 and O1RW) but I keep them for their own unique character.

By the way, a but OT, does anybody use their K2661 with and external ADAT interface as an FX processor? I am looking to buy a cheap converter only for that purpose.

Any feedback is highly appreciated.

Cheers
Old 17th November 2009
  #19
Oli
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Thanks for the info on these, folk.

From memory, I think some people have described the 2000 as sounding dark in character, and one user here also stated that he found the 26 series to sound a bit gustier than the PC3. Any thoughts? I guess these differences would be attributable to the conversion.
Old 17th November 2009
  #20
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GYang's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oli View Post
Thanks for the info on these, folk.

From memory, I think some people have described the 2000 as sounding dark in character, and one user here also stated that he found the 26 series to sound a bit gustier than the PC3. Any thoughts? I guess these differences would be attributable to the conversion.
I use Kurz via digital outs to Apogee-Lavry converters, sounds fine and definitelly bit better than any converters built in any synth.
Old 17th November 2009
  #21
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lowkey's Avatar
 

forgot to mention my absolute favourite part of the K2000...Shape Modulation Oscillators. Can make the weirdest sounds/distortions that ive ever heard, unlike anything else.
Old 17th November 2009
  #22
Gear Nut
 
Matocaster's Avatar
 

I used to have a K2661. It might seem backwards to some, but I prefer the sound of the K2vx which I currently use. The sound of the K2661 was very clean and kinda sterile. Great for some sounds, but just not enough grit for others. I do miss the arps, the faders and ribbon controller, but for what I use the Kurzweil for it's not that important.
Old 17th November 2009
  #23
Oli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowkey View Post
forgot to mention my absolute favourite part of the K2000...Shape Modulation Oscillators. Can make the weirdest sounds/distortions that ive ever heard, unlike anything else.
Is that feature also present on later models?
Old 17th November 2009
  #24
Oli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matocaster View Post
I used to have a K2661. It might seem backwards to some, but I prefer the sound of the K2vx which I currently use. The sound of the K2661 was very clean and kinda sterile. Great for some sounds, but just not enough grit for others. I do miss the arps, the faders and ribbon controller, but for what I use the Kurzweil for it's not that important.
Do you think that is due to a difference in converters? Have you tried using digital outs, and notice a difference in character?
Old 17th November 2009
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowkey View Post
forgot to mention my absolute favourite part of the K2000...Shape Modulation Oscillators.
+1
Old 17th November 2009
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
darthtrader's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matocaster View Post
I used to have a K2661. It might seem backwards to some, but I prefer the sound of the K2vx which I currently use.
I feel the same way but have only played around with k2600 at a store a few times.
To me the real downside with the k2000 is not having the TMP algorithms. Some of the dsp process are so nice on the k2000 but it can be frustrating when you figure out that there just isn't a block that lets you do what you want on the k2000.
The other question k2000 vs k2600/2661/PC is price. The k2000 rack version will occasionally go for 2-300 bucks on ebay, it has 4 extra outs over the keyboard and is a real bargain right now if you don't want the keyboard and don't want to spend 2k for kurzweil sounds.
I don't think the 2500 is really worth it at this point, either get the 2000 or spend the money for TMP/KDFX and that.
Old 17th November 2009
  #27
Oli
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The 2661 seems to offer a pretty good set of features. Was it the last model in the 26XX range?

I didn't find the K2VX on the Kurz site. Where does it fit in the series?
Old 17th November 2009
  #28
Gear Nut
 
Kerzwhile's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matocaster View Post
I used to have a K2661. It might seem backwards to some, but I prefer the sound of the K2vx which I currently use. The sound of the K2661 was very clean and kinda sterile. Great for some sounds, but just not enough grit for others. I do miss the arps, the faders and ribbon controller, but for what I use the Kurzweil for it's not that important.
WOW, I thought it was just me! Couldnt agree more with that statement!! I was heavily into industrial music in the 90's. My Rig consisted of a K2VX, EPS-16+, Six Trak among others! That K2VX could and would Literally tear your head off! I Currently use a K2661 in my live rig and Yes There is a Huge difference. The K2661 does "sound" Much better BUT, Thats also all realative!
This song was done completelly on the K2VX over 8 years ago. Whom ever tries to knock Kurz's Polyphony doesnt know what an Oscilator is!! Let alone 96 of them! BTW, If there ever was a "pop industrial" category, this would sit quite nicely in it!

MP3 Player SoundClick
Old 17th November 2009
  #29
Gear Nut
 
Kerzwhile's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oli View Post
The 2661 seems to offer a pretty good set of features. Was it the last model in the 26XX range?

I didn't find the K2VX on the Kurz site. Where does it fit in the series?
Yes, The K2661 is the Last of the K2's. The K2VX was a Very Successful attempt at squeezing life out of a product, Its just a Full blown K2000 with cooler stickers, but as I said above, There was just something different about it! More organic??
Old 17th November 2009
  #30
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

Most of the television work I did in the 90's was with a K2500, an ASR10 and a JD990 and some other synths.

When I listen to some of that work today, it still holds up nicely, thanks to the high quality sound (and sampling) of the K series.

I still have a lot of the gear I had then, but much of it is sidelined - however, this thread has gotten me interested in digging out the K2500 again
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